The main focus of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is the romance between Heathcliff and Catherine. The love between these two causes pain and suffering for anyone caught between them. Heathcliff’s motivations as a character are often unclear and left up for interpretation, especially after his beloved Catherine’s death. Towards the end of the novel, there is a scene that is used to great success to showcase Heathcliff’s mental state before his death. However, it does much more than that. Through closely examining Bronte’s word choice and the images she invokes when Heathcliff is talking about Catherine’s corpse, we can decipher what has been driving Heathcliff throughout the whole of the novel.
The color green has appeared in many different works over the years, and has been said to symbolize everything from nature to death to the devil. One of the most prominent works to feature the color green is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the classic tale of a knight whose honor and self-control in the face of temptation is tested when a mysterious challenger arrives in King Arthur’s court. The poem has been upheld as a purely Christian poem that enforces Christian ideals of chivalry and honor. The meaning of the ending of the poem, however, has long been in debate. The reveal of the true identity of the Green Knight and Sir Gawain’s decision to wear the green girdle as a badge of shame have split scholars on the meaning for decades. However, I surmise that the poem can be best understood by viewing the Green Knight as an incarnation of God, with his complex morality being explained by the similarly complex nature of the symbolism of the color green. Simply put, the meaning of the color of the Green Knight is not static throughout the poem, but it’s meaning is fluid depending on the scene, with the color overall being used as a sign of bad luck.
[The following is an essay written for my TV Analysis class]
NBC’s Hannibal’s first episode, Aperitif aired on April 4th, 2013 to 4.36 million viewers. The show is based on the acclaimed crime, horror, and drama novels by Thomas Harris. The NBC series stands as a reboot for the cinematic Hannibal franchise, which became popular after the success of the 1991 cinematic adaption of Silence of the Lambs in which Anthony Hopkins famously portrayed the character of Hannibal Lecter, although the first Hannibal film was actually the 1986 film Man Hunter, an adaption of Harris’ Red Dragon. While the first three episodes enjoyed rating of around 4 to 3 million, the rest of the season’s rating hung around the low 2 million mark. Continue reading “Hannibal: What Tumblr ‘fannibals’ mean for the NBC Series”
The Following is an essay written for my English 3080 Class.
While the tragedies of the past have helped make work safer and compensation pay easier to get, workplace injuries are still a huge problem in the United States. In 2012 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 4,383 people died from work related injuries, and a study published my the University of California estimated that 53,000 died in 2007 from work related long term diseases, such as cancer (COSH 6). Being injured or killed while at work is still a large problem, a problem that has been recently shoved into the spotlight by Georgia’s growing film industry. On February 20th, 2014 a tragic accident took place in Savannah, Georgia during the filming of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. Continue reading “Remembering Sarah Jones: A Look at Safety on Film Sets”
The following is an essay written for my American Film History 1 class.
Genres are the labels we give to a film to describe the type of film it is. When a person is asked to describe what a film is, they will most likely begin by stating its genre. When a film is labeled as a comedy, or a thriller, or a horror, there are certain tropes and elements that are associated with that genre. This makes film genres different from other systems of classification. In order to properly examine just how different film genres are from other genre classification systems, and why it’s different, one must first define what a genre is and what it does. Once that is done it is important to look at the recurring settings, character types, and plots that appear within that genre. Another important element to look at to properly understand genres is the conflict going on in the story. Lastly it is important to understand how genres evolve in order to properly understand why things are done in the way they are. Using Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder, we will examine the effects genre has on film.
The following is an essay written for my Film as Literature class.
V for Vendetta was a work of major cultural importance for over a decade before the 2005 film adaption helped spread the messages and themes of the film worldwide. Originally in publication from March 1982 through May 1989, V for Vendetta is the brainchild of Alan Moore, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest comic book writers of all time. The film centers on V, a terrorist out to destroy the fascist government of dystopian future England. While the film itself makes many important points about freedom, liberty, individual choice, and the damage totalitarian control does to them, what makes this film remarkably relatable to the current cultural and political atmosphere of the world, American in particular, is its ability to unite all of these themes under one symbol: the Guy Fawkes mask. The Guy Fawkes mask has a long history, dating back to 1605 and the failed Gunpowder Plot, to its current use as a symbol for protest and the power of revolt. V for Vendetta, by augmenting a preexisting historical figure, has changed the way that the youth of the world protest, both socially and politically, by giving all protesters a single symbol to express their ideals.
The following is an essay written for my English class.
The Usual Suspects is a neo-noir film that follows the interrogation of Rodger Kent, a small time con man and one of the few survivors of a massacre that took place the night before. Using a non-linear style of storytelling, the film tricks the audience into misinterpreting the information being given. On top of that, the film uses slow, subtle camera movements in order to give the images on-screen a sense of constant movement. By combining neo-noir characteristics with non-linear storytelling along with subtle camera movements The Usual Suspects is able to create an aura of suspense and mystery that allows the twist ending to shock the audience, and once realized, completely change the tone of the film.
Film Noir, French for black film, is used to characterize Hollywood crime dramas made between 1940 and 1950. There is much debate about whether Film Noir is a genre or a film movement, with many saying it is not a genre, as genres do not end. Since the 1960’s films that share attributes with Film Noir have been labeled Neo-Noir. The Usual Suspects is a Neo-Noir as it shares some of the Film Noir characteristics. Film Noir often deals with moral corruption, and moral corruption is very much present in The Usual Suspects. Dean Keaton is an ex-cop who lived a life of crime and faked his own death to avoid a criminal trial. The main villain, Keyser Söze, is a crime lord who killed his own family to prove to a rival gang how merciless he can be. In one scene the gang robs a taxicab that is being used by corrupt NYPD to escort smugglers to their destination for a cut of the profit. By bringing down the taxicab scheme the gang humiliates the NYPD by bringing the scandal into the public eye, and at the same time they get revenge on the NYPD for arresting them in the beginning of the film. Film Noir is famous for portraying gritty crime dramas, and as such this is a natural choice of genre for The Usual Suspects.
As is common in Film Noir, the film starts with the end of the massacre on the boat, and then cuts to the next day with the investigation into what happened. Rodger Kent is one of the two survivors of the massacre, and the story is told through his testimony during the interview. Kent starts by going back to when the group first met-after being brought in for questioning about an assault on an armored truck. The police hold the five of them, but they have no evidence to prosecute any of them, and are forced to let them go. Once released the five men decide to come together for a job to get back at the police while making some money at the same time. After a successful job, the group decides one more can’t hurt and decide to do one more for a man named Redfoot in Los Angeles. This job doesn’t go as smoothly as the first, and the group becomes intertwined with the legendary criminal Keyser Söze. Keyser informs the group that they have all stolen from him in one way or another, and the only reason they aren’t dead because of it is due to the fact that they did it indirectly, and were not aware of the fact. He wants the group to attack a ship where a big cocaine deal is scheduled to go down, and offers them the money from the exchange along with them getting to keep living as reward for completing the task. At first the group refuses, but they are ultimately convinced and proceed to attack the ship as scheduled. The battle on the ship is long and bloody, with many being killed, and once the group manages to subdue every enemy they are shocked to find no cocaine on the ship. Keyser Söze had used the group of criminals to dispose of someone who had the power to expose him to the authorities, and then killed every member of the group with the exception of Rodger Kent, who managed to get away.
While the plot of The Usual Suspects is important, even more important is the manner in which it is told. The narrative is told in a non-linear fashion, going back and forth between the past and the present. This makes it much more exciting for the audience to see the story unfold, as there is a certain aura of mystery around the plot. By telling the story through flashbacks the audience is given the perspective of Rodger Kent; we are told what happened through his eyes, and because of this we are given a limited amount of information. However when the film cuts to the present and the ongoing investigation into the massacre on the ship, we are given additional information that Rodger is not supposed to know, since the only ones who know it are the investigators. Using this extra information the audience will form theories about what happened and who is who, but the film gives you this information intentionally to make you form specific theories. The creators of this film picked this style of narrative storytelling for a couple of reasons. For the film to work with the twist ending the audience cannot be given all the information in a linear fashion, it just wouldn’t work well.
The nonlinear narrative is enhanced by one of the most important characteristics The Usual Suspects employs, the style of cinemaphotography employed in the making of the film. Cinemaphotography is defined as the art or technique of motion-picture photography. Cinemaphotography style varies from film to film, and directors will often carry over characteristics from one film’s style to another. The Usual Suspects uses a combination of slow zooms and dolly moves that end in close-ups to add a subtle energy to scenes of dialogue, which would otherwise be quite bland. By using these slow camera movements the film creates a feeling of constant movement and action. This sense of movement is important, because in a film that is constantly going back and forth between the past and the present it can be easy to miss a piece of information and suddenly find yourself lost in the narrative. During an action scene the camera moves quickly to make the actions on-screen seem of utmost importance, about you cannot use that kind of movement in a scene where characters are simply exchanging dialogue. The subtle camera movement causing a constant feeling of movement makes everything on-screen seem just as important as that car chase; it entraps you in the images flickering on the screen to help prevent the audience from missing information. Small camera techniques like this often get lost in films, but they truly are the cornerstones of how the film is presented.
The Usual Suspects is currently considered a classic, but that could never have been achieved if not for the specific film techniques used in the film. Every aspect of this film is done to perfection, with each characteristic making an important contribution to the tone and style of the film. The non-linear storytelling brings together the darkness of the Noir style tale by giving us small pieces of information with which we as viewers can theories and assumptions, which will be proven wrong with the big reveal at the end of the film. Subtle camera movements keep the attention of the audience by making everything seem important, as well as helping prevent the loss of important information. The Usual Suspects is a modern crime classic, but it could never have become that without employing all of these tactics to perfection.
A PDF of this essay is available here.